At this moment in time, the Nintendo Wii is set up to be known as the “winner” of the current console cycle due to the unexpected amount of sales and complete reversal from the previous console cycle. I for one couldn’t be happier for reasons I’ll get to eventually. Regardless of sales numbers, the Wii is nearly universally panned by gamers due to the high amount of shovelware populating the system. But does that make it a bad system? It got me thinking. What exactly makes a system good? Sounds to me like this would be a good opportunity for us to Think Deep. So Let’s, hmm?
“But The System Has So Many Bad Games”
The complaint I hear most often regarding the Wii has to do with the controls. Specifically, they don’t work. Publishers constantly release games that force the player to use either the Wiimote motion controls or even worse the Balance Board from Wii Fit that “works” about 25% of the time. This results in games that would otherwise end up being decent games turned into broken messes. It was a Godsend when Nintendo decided that Smash Bros Brawl would support GameCube controllers in addition to just about every other controller type they had. The complaint about controls is a valid one, but that doesn’t instantly mean the system is bad.
Right now we have the luxury of living in an age where there are three perfectly excellent systems to choose from. Even better is the effect the Internet has had on everything since reviews can come out before a game is even released, meaning that you know whether a game will be good or not. Think back to the time of the NES when the only system you could choose from was the NES. It wasn’t very simple to get reviews or news about specific games, so when you went to buy or rent a game, you did so almost entirely on the artwork and the description on the back of the box. How many NES games do you think were great? The NES was full of shovelware titles, as someone like the Angry Video Game Nerd can attest to, but I doubt anyone would ever call it a “bad system.”
Now we have the ability to know everything about a game before we even play it, plus there is an excess of reviewers out there contributing to the overall rating of a game (thankfully my silly little summaries aren’t counted in a game’s Metascore). The bad games get more press than they used to and the numbers we’re dealing with are heavily skewed. Simply put, the rating system isn’t perfect right now, but it does give us the ability to know more about our games in a way we didn’t have 20 years ago.
The Hardships of Luxury
So what does this mean for our friend the Wii? It means that everyone knows when a bad game comes out and gives the gaming community an opportunity to see the system’s shortcomings. The question remains though, “What makes a system good or bad?” Do bad games make a system bad? No, otherwise every system would be considered awful. As of now, all systems are roughly within the same general average game rating area between 65 and 75%, and that number is constantly shifting as new games come out. While the Wii may not be at the top of the list, it doesn’t mean it’s a crummy system.
Here’s the thing: People believe their favorite system is the best because it’s their favorite. What are your favorite games? If you love God of War and Metal Gear Solid, you probably believe that the PS3 is the best system and the other two are inferior. Huge on Halo and Gears of War? The 360 is clearly the best. Are you like me and love Mario and Zelda? How could the Wii not be the best system out right now? It’s all relative to what you like playing most.
To answer why I’m happy to see the Wii in first place right now, it all has to do with my favorite games. No, I don’t think the Wii is the best system out there, but I do consistently prefer it’s biggest and best games, such as Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, and especially Smash Bros Brawl. I’m ecstatic to hear that Nintendo’s doing so well because it means my favorite franchises will be around for a long time to come.
This is very much like the Console Wars of the early 90’s where it was either SNES or Genesis for the win. It didn’t matter what people said one way or the other about graphics or sound; it came down to whether you liked Sonic or Mario better and that was the decider. After the Genesis, Sega sort of lost its mind and ran everything that’s considered good about it into the ground. Sure, the Dreamcast was a nice glimmer, but it still failed due to Sega’s poor tactics in regards to marketing and just plain doing their fanbase justice. It’s only just now that they’ve announced Sonic 4, a game that fans have been telling them to make for over 10 years. I just can’t imagine the amount of agony a Sonic fan must have endured for over a decade, watching Mario fans get more or less exactly what they want while Sonic turns into a Werehog (which would mean “Man-hog” by the way).
The Year of The Usual Promises
2010 is promising to be a big one once again as Microsoft is releasing Project Natal and Sony is releasing whatever the heck its motion controller is called. If the Wii’s controls make it a bad system, why are its competitors, companies run by intelligent people, rushing to match the same “gimmick” that defines the system? Money, of course. The Wii has managed to bring in a share of the market that was previously untapped and created new gamers from the casual sector. If this means I have to deal with a few dozen shovelware titles so that I get a new Metroid this year, so be it.
It’s becoming very tiresome to hear every company or analyst decide that “2010 is the Year of the PS3” or the “Age of the Xbox” or whatever. Do systems ever have a year that is undeniably its year? Other than the Atari or the NES? And even if it has a good year, does it instantly make up for the previous years or any years to come? No, it’s just a gage for fans to based judgment off so that they can argue that their system is winning or losing or what have you. I love the Wii, but I’m currently playing tons of great games on the 360, and in a month I plan to spend an epic weekend with one of my best friends beating God of War III on the PS3. In the meantime, I still spend my nights playing my DS before bed.
So which system do I think is best? I couldn’t tell you. I can’t even decide which I enjoy playing the most. It comes down to my tastes at the time. I am plowing through game after game on the 360 because I missed out on a lot at the beginning of the console cycle, but I keep going back to my Wii to play Brawl every so often. Both systems have a valued place in my home, but I couldn’t tell you which is the better system. I think both have too many faults for me to consider either of them “the best,” but they’re nowhere close to “the worst.”
When Project Natal is released and has the typical smattering of titles built to demonstrate its capabilities and titles built to get money, will it ultimately decide the 360’s fate? No way. Fans will stick around and haters will claim the system is falling apart. It’s a cycle that will never end.
Has there ever been a system that you feel is perfect? For me, I was always happy with my GameCube. It was one of my favorite systems despite its lack of first-placeness. But what are your favorite systems and why? I loved my GameCube because I was addicted to the games and felt its titles were best suited for the sort of games I play. Still, that’s just me. I don’t think we’ll ever have a perfect system, but we can have systems that do what their fans need them to. Now it’s time to hear from the fans, so leave a comment about what makes a system good for you. Represent!